Where to Stay in Amsterdam: 10 Best Areas

Where to stay in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in Europe and if you are planning a trip to this city, you should prepare to be amazed by all the beauty and incredible attractions this city has to offer! If you want to find out where to stay in Amsterdam, this post is for you. Keep reading!

You may have heard the rumors that people only go to Amsterdam for marijuana and prostitutes. Tell your friends you are going to Amsterdam on holiday, and they will likely give you a knowing smile and a wink. But there is so much more to this amazing city than weed and prostitutes.

Visitors to Amsterdam are met with a diverse culture, historical landmarks, and world-class museums. Food enthusiasts will appreciate the fantastic food options, from delicious food trucks to fine dining in Michelin-starred restaurants.

With its unique culture of acceptance, you might wonder if Amsterdam is a safe place to visit. The answer is a resounding yes! Like all big cities, you’ll want to be constantly aware of your surroundings and watch out for pickpockets.

There are places to stay in Amsterdam that will fit every budget. For luxury travelers, there are lovely five-star hotels. Backpackers will have a choice of hostels. Travelers in the budget to moderate price category have a wide range of hotel options across the city. 

It is genuinely possible to accommodate every budget with a place to stay in Amsterdam.

Read also: Best things to do in Amsterdam

Where to Stay in Amsterdam: 10 Best Areas

1. Old Centrum, where to stay in Amsterdam for first timers

Old Centrum Amsterdam

If time is limited, or you plan to get out and see a lot of sights as quickly as possible, then staying in the Old Centrum district is a good choice. The Centrum district is a touristy area of the city, with lots of restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops.

As the name suggests, the Centrum District is the central hub of Amsterdam. You’ll find the main train station here, Amsterdam Centraal, along with bus, metro and tram stops for local transport that will take you all over the city.

Within the Centrum district and a short walk from the Centraal Station, is Dam Square, Amsterdam’s main square. Staying near Dam Square will put you within easy walking distance of the Royal Palace, De Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and the National Monument.

A quick 10-minute walk from Dam Square puts you in Amsterdam’s famed Red Light District. For curious travelers interested in Amsterdam’s unique culture of acceptance, the Red Light District houses the largest concentration of legal prostitutes.

Prostitutes stand behind large glass windows, framed in red light, and coax prospective clients as they pass by. 

During the day, this area may look a bit dodgy, but it is relatively safe. Be respectful and never try to take pictures of the prostitutes or the red-light windows. At night it is common sense to take precautions.

Some unique attractions you may want to check out in this area include:

  • The Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum, which examines the history and culture of cannabis.
  • The Our Lord in the Attic Church is hidden in a canal house attic. Visitors have access to the small church in the attic and the museum on the lower floors.
  • Oude Kerk, Amsterdam´s oldest building (it was consacrated in 1306) 

If you like to take Instagram photos, then step in front of the stately Royal Palace of Amsterdam, in Dam Square, for the perfect selfie shot.

Because this is such a popular area for travelers, accommodation prices are higher than in other districts. 

There are plenty of moderately priced options. Budget travelers should check the area near the train station for lower-priced accommodations for their stay in Amsterdam.


2. Canal Belt – Nine Streets, the most pretty and romantic neighborhood in Amsterdam

Canal Belt Amsterdam

Travelers searching for the quintessential Dutch experience may find that the Canal Belt is their preferred neighborhood to stay in Amsterdam.

Four main canals form a semi-circle around the center of the city of Amsterdam, as follows:

  • Singel is the innermost canal and the original moat from medieval times.
  • Herengracht is the first of the major canals and forms a semi-circle around the Singel.
  • Keizersgracht is the second major canal and the widest, in a semi-circle around the Herengracht.
  • Prinsengracht is the third major canal and the longest, forming its semi-circle around the Keizersgracht.

These four canals form a “belt” around the city, known in Dutch as the Grachtengordal, or Canal Belt. In August of 2010, the Amsterdam Canal Belt became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The area is excellent for first-time visitors, as it’s quaint and centrally located, with easy access to public transportation.

Are you looking for something a little different? Houseboats are moored along the canals and rented nightly to guests as a unique place to stay in Amsterdam.

Tucked in between the canals is an area of nine small alleyways known as De 9 Straatjes, or The Nine Streets. This quaint shopping area is home to an eclectic mix of small boutique shops, galleries and cafes.

Some of Amsterdam’s best-known sights are within the canal belt, including the Anne Frank House and the Bloemenmarkt or flower market.

You can also find a few unique sites here, including:

  • The narrowest house in the world is at Singel 7.
  • The Tassenmuseum Hendrikje is a museum of bags and purses.
  • The Het Grachtenhuis is a Museum of the Amsterdam Canals.
  • The KattenKabinet or Cat Cabinet is an art museum dedicated to cats.

Snap the perfect Dutch canal Instagram photo by stopping on one of the pedestrian bridges along the Prinsengracht canal. This area provides the most scenic Dutch canal backdrop.

Within the Canal Belt, you will find some moderately priced hotels, along with most of Amsterdam’s top luxury hotels, attracted to the area for its typical Dutch atmosphere. 


3. Leidseplein – Rembrandtplein, where to stay in Amsterdam for nightlife


Travelers looking for lively nightlife will find the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein area is an excellent place to stay in Amsterdam.

While any area of the city is easily accessible by public transport or cab, it’s still good to be able to walk back to your hotel after a night of drinking and dancing. The area of Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) provides that opportunity.

The Leidseplein square is a busy hub for the tram lines, providing easy access to the extensive tram system. Travelers staying in this area should consider purchasing a city pass to use for tram transportation as well as the metro, bus and ferries.

The area is safe for travelers, although visitors should always be aware of their surroundings after dark. To be cautious and aware of your surroundings is a good suggestion anytime and everywhere.

Visit Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) to see the cast iron statue of the famous painter and printmaker Rembrandt van Rijn. Rembrandt square is a lively area surrounded by terraced cafes, restaurants and nightclubs.

While you are in the Leidseplein area, you may also want to visit these attractions:

  • The Bulldog Cafe, which is the first “coffeeshop” in Amsterdam.
  • The DeLaMar Theater, which is used for musicals, cabaret shows and plays.

Snap a picture in front of the Rembrandt statue for your best Instagram photo opportunity in the Rembrandtplein.

You’ll find budget hostels here as well as hotels ranging from mid-priced up to five-star luxury.


4. Jordaan, one of the most charming places to stay in Amsterdam


Head just west of the Canal Belt to find the trendy Jordaan district. First-time visitors to Amsterdam may prefer this area for its charming narrow streets and typical Dutch canals decorated with flowers.

Many of the older houses in the Jordaan neighborhood have a stone tablet or sign above the door that tells the story of the original occupant’s profession

For instance, a butcher might have a pig engraved on the table. A tailor may have a pair of scissors, etc. It’s fun to wander the neighborhood playing a game of “what’s the profession?”.

A few unique attractions in the area include:

  • The Amsterdam Cheese Museum with exclusively Dutch cheeses.
  • The quirky little Amsterdam Tulip Museum.
  • The Amsterdam Houseboat Museum, located inside a former cargo ship called the Hendrika Maria.
  • Electric Ladyland, which claims to be the world’s only fluorescent light museum.

If you are staying in the Jordaan area on a Saturday, be sure to check out the Lindengracht Market. This local farmers market sells produce, cheese, fish and general goods.

Accommodation choices run the full scale, including backpackers hostels, budget hotels, bed and breakfast rooms, moderate and even higher-end properties.


5. Oud-West, where to stay in Amsterdam on a budget

Best places to stay in Amsterdam: Oud-west

There is a secret to saving money on places to stay in Amsterdam. The secret is to stay in the Oud-West neighborhood.

With so many popular attractions concentrated in the Centrum district, hotels in that area tend to be overpriced. Consider staying in the nearby Oud-West neighborhood instead.

Not only will you save money on a place to lay your weary head, but you will also get more of the local Amsterdammer neighborhood feel.

Oud-West is just outside the semi-circle ring of canals in the Canal Belt. To give you a better idea of location, to get from the popular Ten Katemarkt market in Oud-West to Dam Square is:

  • 11 minutes by bus
  • 15 minutes by tram
  • 25 minutes to walk

If you are only in Amsterdam for a short time, you may want to stay in the Centrum district. However, if you have time to get lost as you wander the narrow streets in search of the perfect coffee, then consider staying in Oud-West.

Feel like a local by shopping at the busy Ten Katemarkt, a local outdoor market. Bring your backpack so you can fill it with produce, wine, snacks and flowers. Grab a bite to eat at one of the food trucks. 

Ten Katemarkt is located at Ten Katestraat 97-99 and is open Monday through Saturday.

Have a picnic in nearby Vondelpark. This vast park of 120 acres has lots of open green space, children’s playgrounds, and an open-air theater with free concerts in the summer.

Food fans will want to visit the hugely popular Foodhallen in the De Hallen complex. De Hallen is in a former tram station, converted into several venues: a cinema, library, boutique hotel, shops, galleries, and the magnificent Foodhallen. 

The Foodhallen offers more than 20 food stands, serving international as well as local delicacies.


6. Museum Quarter – Oud-Zuid, where to stay in Amsterdam for museums in an upscale area

Where to stay in Amsterdam: Museum Quarter

Consider this statement: “Amsterdam is home to some of the best museums in the world; you could spend a week there and never see them all.” If that statement fills your heart with joy, then the Museumkwartier or Museum District is perfect for you. 

If that statement is only semi-interesting to you, perhaps one of the adjoining areas might be better suited. Either way, the museum district is an area that all travelers should visit at some point on their Amsterdam trip.

In the Museum District you will find Amsterdam’s three major museums: Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Stedelijk Museum.

The Oud-Zuid neighborhood is one of the most elegant neighborhoods here. Posh, grand manor homes line the streets, along with upscale restaurants and cafés.

High-end shopping is located here along the P.C. Hoofstraat street, with luxury retailers like Hermes, Gucci and Ralph Lauren.

For the perfect Instagram photo opportunity in this area, find Zevenlanenhuizen street, next to Vondelpark. Seven unique houses are lining the little street of Zevenlanenhuizen, and they were built to represent the unique architecture of seven different nations. 

Take a great selfie shot with these colorful houses in the background.

While the area is known for its high-end luxury hotels, it is still possible to find budget accommodations, including hostels, in the area closer to Vondelpark.


7. De Pijp, cool and happening area 

Best places to stay in Amsterdam

The De Pijp neighborhood is a cultural melting pot just south of the Canal Belt.

Formerly a working-class neighborhood, De Pijp was built to house an ever-increasing population. Now it’s a hip and happening community with a bohemian flair.

You’ll find many great shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, and the incredible Albert Cuyp Market in this neighborhood.

Albert Cuyp Market is the largest and best-known outdoor market in Amsterdam. It attracts locals and visitors worldwide, with 260 stalls selling food, clothing, housewares, antiques and souvenirs. 

While you are there, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a hot Stroopwafel, just dripping with gooey caramel.

There are a few unique attractions to look for in the De Pijp neighborhood:

  • The House with the Gnomes on it at Ceintuurbaan 251-255. Two playful Gnomes are perched on the house and appear to be tossing a red ball.
  • Kinderboerderij De Pijp is a small petting zoo located at 82 Lizzy Ansinghstraat.
  • A bench with the saying “Wake Me Up When I’m Famous” painted on the brick wall behind it. Located at 64 Frans Halsstraat, the bench is a hugely popular Instagram photo spot.

De Pijp has a great nightlife, besides Leidseplein is just a few minutes away by foot. So if you are looking to have memorable nights, This area is one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Amsterdam.

Most hotels in the area are moderately priced. Look for budget hotel options closer to the De Pijp metro station.


8. Plantage – Jewish Quarter, where to stay in Amsterdam for families

Where to stay in Amsterdam: Plantage

“Take the family to Amsterdam,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said. And for once, they were right!

With lots of green space and parks, the Plantage district is a good location for families to stay in Amsterdam while traveling with children. Your children will never be bored with all of the kid-friendly attractions in Plantage and the Jewish Quarter area.

Amsterdam’s Royal Zoo, also called ARTIS, is on 25 acres in the heart of the city. In addition to the hundreds of animals here, you will also find an aquarium and planetarium included with your zoo admission.

Next to the zoo is a separate science museum, Micropia, which focuses on microorganisms. When you purchase your ARTIS zoo ticket, you can add admission to Micropia for a discounted price.

There are several museums and memorials located in the Jewish Quarter to honor the lives of the thousands of people affected by the Holocaust. Some have special exhibits for children.

A few of the noteworthy museums include:

  • The Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum) is dedicated to the people who contributed to the resistance against the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
  • Inside the Dutch Resistance Museum, you will also find the Junior Museum. It is for children, from nine years old and up, to see what it was like to be a kid during the Nazi occupation.
  • There is a special kids section inside the Jewish Heritage Museum, called The JHM Children’s Museum.

You’ll find hotel prices in the mid-range to luxury categories. Finding some budget hotel options near the ARTIS zoo is also possible.


9. Amsterdam Noord, affordable accommodation close to the City Center

Amsterdam Noord

If you prefer to get away from the city’s more touristy areas, then Amsterdam’s Noord borough just might be the local secret you are looking for. 

For savvy travelers, the Amsterdam Nord Burrough offers places to stay in Amsterdam that are just outside the tourist zone. Across the IJ River from central Amsterdam, this area is removed from most of the fast-paced tourist activity of the Centrum district. 

You can reach the Noord by taking a fast, free, ferry ride from just behind the Centraal Station. The ferry service runs every few minutes, all day, and into the night. 

No ticket is required. Just show up and hop on the ferry. It only takes a few minutes to get across the river and step off at Buiksloterweg.

You’ll save money by staying in the Nord Burrough as the hotels are more affordable than those in the historic city center. Yet, it’s just a five-minute ferry ride across the river. The area is safe and suitable for families.

In recent years, Amsterdam Nord has been transformed from its role as a major shipping area to an area of great restaurants, art galleries and entertainment.

Even if you choose not to stay in this area, take the ferry across the river, and walk to the A’Dam Lookout for an amazing panoramic view of the city.

Just in case you think there is nothing to do on this side of the IJ River, here are a few of the unique things worth checking out:

  • Explore the Pekmarkt flea market, with its different daily themes.
  • Have a meal at Pllek, a restaurant inside a shipping container.
  • Sail on the IJ River, while you enjoy unlimited pancakes on the Pannenkoekenboot (the Pancake Boat).

You may even get to see a cruise ship docked at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam near the Central Station in the summer months.


10. Zuidas, where to stay in Amsterdam for business and more affordable prices

Best places to stay in Amsterdam: Zuidas

Amsterdam’s financial district may be the most convenient area to stay in Amsterdam if you are traveling on business. The location was initially called Zuideramstel. In May of 2020, it became part of the Zuidas borough.

It’s a quick six-minute train ride from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to the Zuid station in Amsterdam’s business district.

The Zuidas borough is also where you will find the massive RAI Amsterdam Convention Center. Every year the RAI hosts as many as 500 meetings, events, and trade shows.

If you are staying in the Zuid borough for business, it is still possible to see many of Amsterdam’s famous attractions by taking public transportation

The Zuid train station provides a metro station for lines 50, 51 and 52. There are also two tram stops here for tram lines 5 and 25. To give you a better idea of location, to get from Zuid Train Station to Centraal Station is just 10-15 minutes by metro.

Hotels in the area are focused on serving business travelers. You will find many big chain hotels here for business travelers who are collecting hotel guest points. 

While lacking in character or charm, hotels in this area will provide an adequate bed in a clean sleeping room. Most hotels provide an onsite restaurant for the convenience of their guests.

Prices are much more affordable than those in any area in the City Center.


Images: Shutterstock

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